Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II Review
Design and Handling
The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, as the name implies, is not an complete overhaul of the RX100. The two cameras share the same basic shell with the RX100 II adding a hotshoe and tilting LCD. Build quality is still good - the RX100 was made of sturdy stuff and the addition of a "II" on the top panel hasn't changed that. We had hoped for an update to the control wheel surrounding the lens - the RX100's dial left us feeling a little unengaged while shooting, sadly the RX100 II retains that 'clickless' wheel. Overall, very little has changed on the surface, and that's a (mostly) good thing.
The control ring circling the RX100 II's lens isn't new, but it is a central part of the camera's operation. Here are the functions controlled by the ring:
- Standard (the Sony-chosen setting, based on exposure mode)
- Exposure Compensation
- White Balance
- Creative Style
- Picture Effect
- Shutter Speed
- Not Set (no function assigned)
As mentioned above, the ring is designed to rotate smoothly without any click detents. To be nit-picky about the dial's interface, there's an ever-so-slight delay between rotating the wheel and when the dial function's quick screen is displayed on the LCD (part of the reason it's easy to feel disconnected from the process).
One excellent application of the step-less control ring is in movie mode. Coupled with the RX100 II's focus peaking, the control ring's freely rotating operation comes in handy when using manual focus.
Turning the dial from f/1.8 to f/11 also requires several good twists of the ring, something that's done more easily and quickly by using the rear command dial. Overall the control ring is a nice hardware feature, but in practice is a little bit of a letdown.
The RX100 II gives away its complexity in the hand. It may look like any other compact, but it's appropriately hefty thanks to the large sensor and lens. Despite a slightly matte finish the body is somewhat slippery, though a rubberized back thumb grip helps keep it steady. Overall it's comfortable and feels secure enough to use one-handed, but attaching the enclosed wrist strap is a good idea. Sony now sells an accessory grip for the RX- series, applied to the front of the camera with an included double-sided adhesive. We had a similar third-party accessory for our RX100 review unit and it made a considerable difference in how the camera felt in the hand.
|With the camera held in your right hand, the RX100 II's key controls are easy to locate. The lens is zoomed using a conventional rocker switch 'collar' around the shutter release or via the control ring encircling the lens.|
The RX100 II has added a little thickness and height to the RX100's profile, thanks to a hotshoe and tilting LCD. There's not a whole lot to say about the latter, which is one of a few key differences between this camera and its predecessor. The screen's ability to tilt makes it easier to grab a shot above the head or at waist level and below. There are slight protrusions on the bottom edge of the LCD housing for extra grip when putting its tilting function to use, but even so it's a little awkward to handle. Still, it's useful for composition and video recording.
|Roughly the same size as a typical compact, the RX100 II's back panel controls are all easily within reach when shooting one-handed.|
The RX100's interface has been carried over to this model. Menus are still lengthy, but they provide plenty of opportunities for customization. Users can add certain image setting controls to the quick menu that's accessed via the function button on the back panel, providing essential shortcuts to things like white balance and focus mode.
|Up to seven settings can be added to the quick menu accessed via the Function button.|
|Once assigned, they'll appear in the on-screen quick menu. Each setting is adjusted by using command dial on the back panel.|
The interface for accessing the RX100 II's wireless features is a little unintuitive since the options to 'send to smartphone' and 'send to computer' are located in the main menu's playback tab, and the option to use a smartphone as a wireless remote is another tab. It's not hard to work out where these options are located within the menus, and it's hardly worth creating a new menu tab for three items.
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